Thursday 11th April saw the first of the special events organised to mark the 25th anniversary of the Heritage Centre with the arrival of TV personality and antiques expert Paul Laidlaw and his assistant Georgina Norman to conduct a Charity Valuation Day in aid of the Heritage Centre.
For £2 per item, a continuous procession of hopefuls, each carrying prized possessions, walked along the platform of Bellingham station on a Treasure Trail to the far carriage where the two experts, who gave their services free, had set up shop. Clocks, medals, pocket watches, porcelain, oil paintings, toys, prints and a fine ebony walking stick were just some of the items brought along for valuation and some of these were submitted for sale at Paul's Auction House in Carlisle.
There were happy faces as people left with their items, many now treated with rather more reverence, and one piece of jewellery, bought for £2, proved to be the highlight of the day, as its sparkling stones, thought to be glass, proved to be diamonds. The sun shone brightly on the event and many people took advantage of the offer to combine a valuation with a visit to the Heritage Centre and examine the merchandise in the recently refurbished and restocked shop.
At the end of four hours, Paul had time to look around the Heritage Centre, with his particular interest in militaria being satisfied by the Great War exhibition. He was very impressed, however, with all the displays in what he called the “Tardis” and vowed to return with his family. What impressed him above all, however, was the tangible courtesy and friendliness of the Bellingham folk as well as the hospitality and fare of the Carriages. "I'd love to do this again," were his parting words as he and Georgina drove back to Carlisle, “Don’t make it too long.”